From Forbes: The Surprising Face Of Immigrants In Napa: Sterotypes Versus Data

January 11, 2016 Cathy Huygh

Note: Today’s post is part of an ongoing series on sustainability in the Napa Valley, and the pivot points of liveability that define this wine region. So far we’ve looked at the topics of healthcare, housing, andtransportation, and today’s post turns to the question of immigration.

There’s nothing like looking stereotypes in the face.

Take the stereotypes of immigrants, as an example, that we assume comprise the workforce of the wine industry in the Napa Valley, and the agricultural industry in California more generally.

There are assumptions we make but then, fortunately, there’s also the data that people and organizations take the time to collect.

Data is what Terence Mulligan was after when in 2012 he commissioned the Washington DC-based Migration Policy Institute to study immigration in Napa County. Mulligan is the President of the Napa Valley Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization that mobilizes resources and provides leadership on both urgent and long-range projects within the Napa Valley community.

“Immigration was a polarizing issue,” Mulligan said. “There wasn’t enough public discourse about it, and we wanted to put facts on the table.”

Mulligan and his team are in the practice of looking at things that, as he says, “we think are a little hot.”

The goal of the immigration study – the first of its kind to profile immigrant demographics in Napa — was to provide an estimate of immigrants’ impact on the county’s economy, such as the taxes they pay and the costs of public services they receive, including education, health, and social services.

It’s a complicated algorithm, and the documentation is easily found on the Community Foundation’s website. Reading the reports of the study is like watching a portrait being painted – specifically in the profile of a Napa resident who is likely involved in the production of the bottle of wine on your table.

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